Legend of the White Ferret

You ever hear the stories about the alligators in the New York City sewers, or the monkeys and boa constrictors living in the wilds of the Florida Everglades? What would you say to a story of a white ferret living in the bushes surrounding an apartment complex in downtown Shanghai?

The white ferret of legendI probably wouldn’t pay much attention if I heard such a story, but I never did hear it. Rather, I’ve seen it multiple times with my own eyes, scurrying from one clump of bushes to another, always at night. Unmistakably a ferret.

I’m moving into a new place in Shanghai next weekend (there’s a post about that coming soon), and I’ve been thinking about what I’ll miss about my current place. I’ll miss its convenient downtown location. I’ll miss the view of the city lights out my bedroom window. And, I suppose I’ll miss the mysterious white ferret.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I’ve always enjoyed the albino squirrels on university campuses.

  2. Da Xiangchang Says: December 6, 2004 at 5:59 am

    Hmmmm . . . highly interesting. The ferret must’ve been someone’s pet–let loose perhaps? Are ferrets common pets in China? Ferrets aren’t native to China, I don’t think. This story sort of reminds me of the Nazi Racoons of Germany:


  3. Delicious!

  4. A while ago I was on my way to school here in London UK and I saw what I thought was a rather nervous-looking dog scurrying about. Well, when I got closer I realized it was actually a FOX. Right in central London. I’d love to know how it got there!

  5. We had 5 ft long weirdlooking alligator fish, 10 ft long alligator, giant water turtles, possums, skunks, water snakes, and cranes right inside the fence of our backyard when we lived in Sugarland Texas.

  6. That thing has SARS written all over it.

  7. There are loads of foxes in urban areas in the UK. There is too little food in the countryside, and upper-class idiots on horses chase them with dogs. Raiding dustbins is an easier way to survive.

  8. hey, john, nice image! great skyline pic, and i like the ferret overlay. 🙂

  9. Da Xiangchang Says: December 7, 2004 at 5:20 am

    Don’t know why, but I’m trying to remember all the times I’ve seen a ferret in a movie. I only remember 2 instances:

    Kindergarten Cop–Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pet. The ferret actually saves the day when he bites the bad guy in the neck!

    The Beastmaster–I don’t remember anything from this movie except the main guy was pretty buff (though, of course, far from as buff as Arnold) and that he had 2 ferrets. One of the only scenes I remember was when a bad guy laid one of the ferrets on a ledge and was going to chop him in half! Haha.

  10. I agree w/ Amy: nice job on the graphic, especially the almost mask-like black markings on the eyes. Makes him/her look more furtive.

  11. I’m pretty sure I saw one of those in my hotpot down in Guanxi Province.

  12. The first time I heard about ferret is “sars time “last year .Actually ,I have no idea what they look like until now(the picture U show).Forget the sars ,they ‘re lovely!Aren’t they ?Maybe the ferret would miss U too.U know ,sometimes when U were looking at it ,it was also looking at U ,HAHA ~~

  13. Our new place has a mako shark in the pond. Very mysterious!!!

  14. Comet, Ferret is not cute. We have a pet ferret before. Their hair is coarse like German Shepherds. They can’t be litter trained and they have very smelly feces.

  15. green chi Says: November 5, 2005 at 8:31 am

    ferrets are considered bad luck in china as well as japan at laest in the days of yor. in england in the day hedge witches keptedwhite ferrets cause you give milk that a white ferret has tasted of to cure the whooping cough. over all white ferrets are smarter but ferrets cannot live in the wild or the city on their own. they can be litter trained,contrary to popular ideas.sgauger

  16. Skizmatic Says: October 1, 2006 at 3:44 am

    I had a white ferret and it ran away from my house. That was probably mine, though I never lived in China. He probably snuck on a ship and was shipped to China. /cry

  17. […] honesty, what it looked like was a ferret — another rare creature in Shanghai (though apparently I am not the first person to have seen one in a residential neighborhood). Anyway, whether ferrets are common or not, I think I’m going […]

  18. Bro, I just saw a ferret last night roaming around my apartment complex in Jingan… and googled it. Your old blog popped up. Well done!

    • Ha ha, that’s awesome!

      Was the one you saw white? I saw one right around my current apartment (not white) just two months ago, in the morning. They’re still alive and well…

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